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Comply now or face harsh penalties next year - Tomblin

Published:Friday | November 13, 2015 | 11:00 AMOkoye Henry
Tomblin

Western Bureau:

Faced with US$8-million in current bad debt, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) is urging delinquent customers to make use of an ongoing amnesty programme to regularise their situation as, come next year, the company will be implementing harsh measures, which could result in persons stealing electricity being sent to prison.

During the JPS's 12 Days of Amnesty Road Show in Montego Bay, St James, yesterday, JPS CEO Kelly Tomblin said the company wants to give delinquent consumers one last opportunity to regularise their service and get on the grid during the period of the amnesty, which started yesterday and ends December 19.

Tomblin said the light and power company is offering up to 70 per cent amnesty to residential and small-business customers with outstanding debt of $50,000 and $100,000 as of August 31.

"For a number of our customers, their arrears have got so big, they are struggling to pay and every month we have to go through this (for them to) get another payment arrangement," said Tomblin.

 

NEW ELECTRICITY ACT

 

She also implored delinquent customers to take the amnesty offer seriously, to avoid the dire consequence they could face under the new Electricity Act.

Under the act, delinquents could face two years in prison or harsh financial penalties if they fail to regularise.

"We really want to start fresh, given the fact that there are significant penalties and jail time. We do get people who say that they can't pay for anything, but you can afford it. You just don't want to," argued Tomblin.

She further explained that the monies owed to the company have already been largely written off, but there are still millions of dollars outstanding.

 

BAD DEBT

 

"Even today, I have US$8 million that is bad debt and sometimes it gets up to US$12 million and $14 million, and that is more than our entire profit, so it is a significant problem for us," said Tomblin. "There is no need for us to have almost 200,000 people stealing. We have a solution."

In addition to the amnesty, JPS will be conducting educational seminars as well as other activities to sensitise customers about the many and varied ways they can establish a harmonious relationship with the company.